Out this week: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder; Burning Down the House by Jane Mendelsohn; Stork Mountain by Miroslav Penkov; Shelter by Jung Yun; Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton; and The North Water by Ian McGuire. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”
There’s been a lot of digital ink spilled about the traumas lurking in the comment section. It’s almost a rite of passage to get abused for something you write. But there’s another kind of trauma — what happens when you get no comments at all? At The Rumpus, Rachel Newcombe writes about a new kind of emptiness.
“All of your life, you think of that one fluid motion of power, terrorized by the fact we are capable of such collisions, such harm, such leveling of each other to flattened mountains, left to tunnel into ourselves, such wretched unhappiness, such unfathomable cruelty unless resurrected by the tenderness and affection of a lover, by kisses that leave us enthroned.” Major Jackson is next up in the Kiss series from Guernica Magazine — a weekly column which investigates that most intimate of human interactions, the kiss, in all its many manifestations.
“Garth Greenwell’s project with What Belongs to You is to remind us how illicit cruising and anonymous sex figure within the modern gay identity. As the gay marriage movement helps sanitize (and de-sexualize) queerness, Greenwell brings the dark and sordid elements of sex and promiscuity back into sharp relief.” Over at Pacific Standard, Nathan Smith writes on the new gay novel. Pair with the Millions review of Greenwell’s book.